How to Prepare a Toddler for a New Baby
Having a new baby come into the family can be a stressful time for a child if they feel there is competition for mom and dad’s time and attention. Preparing your toddler for the arrival of their sibling can lessen this stress and make them feel proud and happy for their new friend. Let them be a partner in helping with the baby. Below are a few tips on getting a toddler ready for a new baby in their life.
Write a Special Song for Your Toddler to Sing to Baby
This will give them something special to share together and since baby can hear while in mommy’s belly they will begin bonding while in the womb.
Talk With Your Toddler About The New Baby
Start talking with your toddler about the new baby as soon as mommy’s baby bump begins to show. Tell them how proud you are that they’re growing up and becoming a sister or brother. There will be at least some jealousy when the new baby comes so prepare them in advance by letting them know that the new baby is coming and what to expect.
Ask Your Toddler To Be Your Little Helper
When I was a kid I used to absolutely love helping my mom clean the refrigerator. Seriously, I have pictures of me cleaning our fridge with an ear-to-ear grin on my face. Now cleaning the fridge ranks just above giving the litter box a deep clean.
My point is, kids love to help their parents, so let them know how much their help is appreciated. After all, babies are a lot of work and you’ll need as much of your toddler’s help as you can get. Find ways they like to help and include them often even if it’s something as simple as grabbing diapers for you.
Try using a toy baby and having your toddler help feed and diaper the toy baby with you.
Share The Ultrasound Experience With Your Toddler
Bring your child with you to see the ultrasound. Let it be a family experience. Share ultrasound pictures and explain that’s what they looked like when they were in mommy’s belly.
Show Your Toddler Their Baby Book
Now is also a good time to bring out your toddler’s baby book. Show them their ultrasound pictures, birth length and weight, and share stories of their first few days. Getting them excited to learn those same things about their new sibling is a fun way to prepare a toddler for a new baby.
Help Your Toddler Create Their Own Song for Baby
Write a short, easy to remember song they can sing to the baby and sing it with them to mommy’s belly. This will be a great bonding experience for everyone and something special for them to share with the new baby.
Encourage Interaction With Babies You See In Public
Say hello to babies you see in public. If they’re sleeping remind your toddler to speak quietly. Tell them that soon your family will have a new baby too.
Talk About Baby As Your Toddler’s New Best Friend
Let your toddler know that they will be best friends and have lots of fun together. Ask them about all of the fun things they want to do with their new sibling.
Let Your Toddler Choose A Gift For Baby
Take them shopping to choose a special gift for baby. Every time the baby plays with the gift they chose your toddler will be proud. Our daughter picked out a stuffed Ewok toy for her baby brother and it became his favorite thing to snuggle when falling asleep.
Let Your Toddler Help Choose Baby’s Name
If you’re having trouble choosing between a few of your favorite names consider letting your child choose. This is something neither will forget and are sure to talk about throughout their lives.
Make Gradual Changes To Your Toddler’s Daily Activities
Switching from being held to walking and holding hands can be a big change for some children. Slowly switch from carrying to holding hands. If your toddler favors attention - or certain activities like brushing teeth - from one parent over the other get them use to being taken care of by the other parent as well.
Sudden changes to routine will have the most impact on your toddler and they may view the new baby as being the cause of that change.
Make Any Changes To Your Toddler’s Living Space In Advance
If your toddler will be moving rooms prepare the room in advance and have them begin sleeping there well in advance of baby’s arrival. To help your toddler prepare for sharing with baby consider creating a play space in your toddler’s room for baby and vice versa.
Prepare Your Toddler For The Baby’s Crying
Let your toddler know that baby will cry when it wants something. Our daughter always tells us her baby brother "wants to mum mum (drink milk)” whenever he cries. It’s a great way for your toddler to learn to be in touch with baby’s needs.
Read Books About Having A New Baby With Your Toddler
There are quite a few books out there on helping toddlers prepare for a new baby. Some of our favorites are…
- This set of three books is great for preparing your toddler for a new baby - My New Baby, Waiting For Baby, and You and Me by Rachel Fuller
- Happy Birth Day! by Robie H. Harris
- I’m a Big Brother & I’m a Big Sister By Joanna Cole
When Baby Arrives…
- Give your toddler some time when they’re the focus of all your attention.
- Give them a day of the week where they get to choose the family activities.
- Create a safe place to place baby, such as a playpen, for when your toddler is tired and unruly.
- Take lots of pictures and videos for everyone to enjoy together for years to come.